The Spirit Empowered Church
Text: Acts 1:8
|One night several years ago
hurricanes force winds battered an American city. In the morning people
emerged from their homes and shelters to assess the damage. The power of
the storm quickly became apparent to one investigator. In a telephone
pole he found imbedded a flimsy plastic drinking straw. Obviously, under
normal circumstances, a flimsy straw could never penetrate a telephone
pole. But the tremendous power of the wind had driven the straw into the
pole like a spike.
As believers living in an ungodly world sometimes we wonder if we can effectively penetrate our cynical culture with the Good News God has given us to proclaim.
The answer lies in the source of our power. If we rely on our own strength or power and methods we cannot make much of a difference. But if we choose to be driven by God's unlimited power we become like that straw in the hurricane. Nothing can stop us. We can make a dramatic difference.
That is what Jesus wants the church, the collective body of Christian believers, to do. Like the early church in the book of Acts, He wants us to have a profound impact on our culture to "turn our world upside down" for Christ and it is impossible if we do not do it in God's way and in God's power.
Christ established the Church. It is important that we understand how the church was established. Man did not initate the beginning of the Church. The Lord Jesus initiated the Church. In fact, it is the only organization Jesus ever started. Since Christ established the Church, He is the head of the Church which is His Body. He was the first to be resurrected from the dead, so He is first in everything. Colossians 1:18, "Christ is the head of the church, which is his body. He is the first of all who will rise from the dead, so he is first in everything" (NLT).
Christ purchased the Church. Acts 20:28, "Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood".
Christ will bless and maintain the Church. Matt. 16:18, "On this rock I will build My Church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it".
Believers makes up the Church. At spiritual rebirth we are made a part of this wonderful gathering of believers that Jesus Himself established, purchased, heads-up and protects. Greater still, God has a purpose for each of us individually in this great plan of His. Tragically many churches today are shrinking in number. Some have faced horrible and divisive splits. To make matters worse, a number of people stopped attending church altogether because they have become disillusioned with the hypocrisy they see. Don't forget the church is not made up of perfect people. It is made up of people like you and me who make mistakes. It has been said, "The church is not a museum for saints, but a hospital for sinners".
If you really want to walk with the Lord and grow spiritually then an involvement in the church is absolutely necessary. It is not an option. The scripture emphasizes this strongly in Hebrews 10:23-25, "Let us hold fast the confession of our faith without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another and so much the more as you see the day approaching".
What makes the Church a blessing? It is not an option for us as believers to take or leave the church as a whole. If we are true Christians we will want to be a vital part of all that God is doing today in and through His people. The Church should not be some place where, as Arian Rogers humorously puts it, "We go to be hatched, matched and dispatched." That was never God's original intention. Church should not be some kind of miserable experience, but church should be like an oasis on a hot desert experience. We should look forward to being with other believers, even long for it. Like David, we should be able to say, "I was glad when they said unto me, let us go into the house of the Lord", (Psalm 22:1). Church is a place to worship God, learn more about Him, straighten our priorities, help others and use the gifts that He has given to us. That way we can be equipped to go back into the world as changed people representing Jesus Christ.
What makes a church effective? The reason so many churches are ineffective and/or falling apart today is because they have strayed from God's original plan. The phenomenal strength and growth of the early church can be traced to the Spirit of God working through the Word of God working in the hearts of the people of God. Jesus describes that dimension of spiritual power in the opening chapter of Acts 1:8, "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth".